The conflict in Parachinar, Kurram Agency, resurfaced once again, when two suicide bombers targeted a busy market killing, at least, 51 and injuring almost 190 tribesmen from the predominantly Shia, Turi and Bangash tribes. Just last month, security forces, which had concluded a successful military operation in the neighbouring Sadda area of the agency, claimed to have restored peace by flushing out the militants who were advancing towards Parachinar. But the unabated violence continues. After the attack, the workings of the security apparatus were further put into doubt when the political agent of Kurram Agency claimed to have had intelligence reports of a possible attack during Friday prayers but did not manage to avert the danger.
While fear looms across the tribal areas, death tolls have become a mere statistic. The conflict in Kurram is not new. The sectarian strife, considered to be a by-product of the Afghan war in 1982, has trickled down since then. The recent attacks were claimed by the Ansarul Mujahideen, an offshoot of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The same group has also claimed attacks on the Pakistani security forces in North Waziristan; only this time, its motive was to apparently target Shias. Residents believe that the inefficiency of the government and security forces has been the cause of death of hundreds of people. The road to Parachinar, which remained closed for over four years, was reopened in 2011 only after a large number of residents, who had to travel to another area in their own country via Afghanistan, were killed across the border. However, despite this, there have been several incidents of violence.
Many have found no solution but to migrate permanently to a settled area, but even then, their lives have not been safe. A number of high-profile sectarian targeted killings across Pakistan are mostly targeting those from Kurram Agency. Last year, a boat that capsized off the coast of Indonesia, had almost 200 asylum seekers — a majority of them were young men from Parachinar. That these people have had to live in such uncertainty for so long is deplorable. It is high time that the government made a more concerted and decisive effort to catch those responsible for the violence and bring them to book.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.
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